Home Free REMINISCENCES; NON-VIOLENT INTERVENTIONS: HOW UNIVERSITY STUDENTS MESMERISED GOVERNMENT PEACEFULLY

REMINISCENCES; NON-VIOLENT INTERVENTIONS: HOW UNIVERSITY STUDENTS MESMERISED GOVERNMENT PEACEFULLY

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TERRIFIC HEADLINES is featuring some serialized events that are in public interest, simply to enlighten members of the general public who may not be aware of their rights and limitations. This is part of our social responsibility. In Law, ignorance is not an excuse. Similarly, nobody or institution has the right to trample on the rights of people as enshrined in the constitution. TERRIFIC HEADLINES is not encouraging anybody or groups of people to demonstrate or confront constituted authorities; but no law says you cannot act in conformity with the provisions of the constitution. One thing is clear – It is illegal and senseless to engage in disturbance of public peace or destroy lives and property because anybody is aggrieved; since there are processes for redress legally.
THE GLAMOUR
It is very normal in this part of the world to notice the glamour associated with wielding political power. But majority of all those who govern at the highest stratum, should they decide to tell the truth, will say out that it is not all glamour; but a task overloaded by immense responsibilities of living up to expectations of the people, that is indeed tasking. It should naturally be expected, that those who manage governments and corporate organizations would experience huge difficulties because human beings, as part of the resources expected to be managed, constitute the most difficult aspect of management. People wishing to step into the saddle or inherit the mantle have enormous responsibilities thrust on their shoulders.

The fact is that whoever governs at the federal and state levels in Nigeria and quits without developing hypertension should give glory to God and count himself or herself extremely lucky. The pressure mounted on these rulers is simply too enormous. This is one of the reasons why tempers may be short-fused. Everybody wants something from government, and you hardly meet people like Dangote, Danjuma, Elumelu and Alakija, who come out to do something for the masses through government by way of philanthropy. Those who understand the workings in the corridor of power would indeed pity decision makers in management.
Apart from having to contend with intrigues, political party, communal, and office politics, those who manage the affairs of the society are open to deceit, manoeuvres by self-seeking interests, and sycophancy. You must also expect to find ungodly people whose stock in trade is to tell huge lies against innocent people in order to curry favour. More importantly, it is also frightening to note that rulers, in political and corporate settings, are also open to spiritual manipulations. Unconfirmed reports, drawing an analogy sometime ago stated that people could put tortoise in their pockets, or some substances in their mouths, to speak with people in positions of authority to bewitch them do the bidding of spiritualists, by manipulating the minds of these very important people. (political and corporate).
STUDENTS PROTESTS
Students of tertiary institution, these days, have no time for niceties of studying deeply and hard, and at the same time create interest in issues that are of public interest, by decoding properly, the stimuli from the society. Instead, they are ever ready to protest perceived ills through demonstrations that every so often turn violent, designed to invite attention to their plight or the issue under focus. But the trend in modern times needs to be corrected because ideally, no form of demonstrations must be violent, if the intention is to invite attention and possibly enforce corrections. The history of protests by university students in Nigeria is a mixed grill of success and sadness. Success because in 1962, students of universities behaved peacefully and patriotically by protesting against the Anglo-Nigerian Defence Pact that was eventually never signed by the Government of Nigeria. The undergraduates moved over to Lagos and engaged in peaceful protests, for government to halt the signing of the agreement because they reasoned that Nigeria’s freedom might be impaired. As a mark of responsiveness, the then federal government listened to the students.

Government reversed itself and the agreement was never signed. It shows that reasonable non-violent interventions by students could succeed, without resorting to violence. Years later, violent protests engulfed the campuses and consumed the lives of students who battled law enforcement agents. The interesting account here is the novelty introduced by the University of Ibadan undergraduates in the early 1960s during the politics of bitterness fought with every conceivable malice. An interesting revelation made by Apostle Hayford Alile, which is published in the Vanguard Newspapers indicates that late Chief Michael Okpara, then Premier of the Eastern Region during the Western Region political crises was threatened not to visit Ibadan to deliver a lecture at the University of Ibadan. Michael Okpara was invited by the University of Ibadan students. But the Western region government ordered that Okpara must not set his feet on the land of Ibadan.

PEACEFUL RESOLUTION OF THE STALEMATE BY STUDENTS
Arising from the above, what did the students do? They conducted themselves reasonably and avoided confrontation. They never fought or engaged in violence. According to Apostle Hayford Alile, who was at the time an undergraduate of the University,: We were prepared to support anybody then; but the only man that we saw as a patriot was Michael Okpara, then premier of the Eastern region. And we invited him to the University of Ibadan only for late Chief S.L. Akintola to send message across on radio that Okpara was not welcomed in Ibadan or anywhere in the West. We (University of Ibadan students) replied him that Opara had a right to land at the Ibadan airport which is owned by the Federal Government and the students were prepared to carry him shoulder high from the airport to UI, another Federal Government institution without his foot touching the soil of Western Region. And true to our promise, when his plane landed in Ibadan, we carried him on our shoulders and his foot did not touch Ibadan soil.

Very comical you might say. But that was how Nigerian students of that era, clearly more matured and cerebral than the present generation, defeated the government that said Okparas feet must not touch the soil of the Western Region. All thy did to obey that order was to carry Okpara from the Samonda area of the then Ibadan Airport, to the University of Ibadan, a distance of about three kilometres. As ordered by government, Okparas feet never touched the soil of Ibadan or any part of Western region. Very amusing; but that was a clever way of avoiding violence. Without any doubt, those students were very much mature and cerebral than what we have on campuses today. Whoever invented that solution to circumvent Western region governments order deserves an award for his or her ingenuity. The Alutas of those good old days are definitely different from the Alutas of today. Standards have fallen drastically in practically all spheres of human activity.

INTERVENTION
Some of those students who championed those patriotic agitations of 1962, – like Apostle Hayford Alile, who later became the first Nigerian Director-General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange was then a State Scholar in Physics. He turned 80 years old last May. Similarly, Prince Julius Adelusi Adeluyi, who later became a Minister of the Federal Republic was not a loafer. They understood current affairs on a global scale, in addition to reading widely and engaging in discussions of topical issues. Many of them are still very much around and could be invited and encouraged to invade the campuses to share their experiences for the sake of peaceful and progressive conducts.

TERRIFIC HEADLINES, as advocates of peaceful conducts salutes those Great Nigerian Students, who have transmuted to Great Nigerians. Your deeds are indeed worthy of emulation. May the good Lord bless Nigeria.

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